Greetings and salutations, faithful followers of this blog! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and THIS is Story Time With Tim! An ongoing series presenting my works from the past, my works from the present, and works yet to come all for your reading pleasure! Most are just trunk stories, but others are materials that I’ve self-published on several sites. Links of which you can find below.
Here we have part one of two. A story called Nocturnal Emanations that plays off of the old tale ‘Of Mice and Men’ by featuring a different take on the lead characters. It’s a bit more challenging to get on a first read, I feel it came out really good. Another work that was meant as a contest entry for Scribophile, the work didn’t exactly break down the door to success. I still intend to include it in a collection at some point.
Thanks for reading and I’ll read to you again next week!
NOCTURNAL EMANATIONS PART ONE
“WHAT SHOULD WE do with the body?”
Harold asks me, eyes wide in disbelief. I wasn’t quite sure what to tell him as I stared at the corpse lying there in the mud. Its eyes glared up into the darkening sky, flashes of lightning glittering in the pale pupils. The mouth hung open as if in an eternal scream, the teeth gleaming white. Strangely, there was no smell. I would’ve thought the putrid stank of death would be lingering in the air. Yet, nothing. Just some lavender scent hanging on the breeze as if this were some morbid plug-in hanging by a severed cord and its corrosive fragrance a mockery of everything good in life.
“I don’t know,” I swallowed and finally managed to push some words out of my throat. “What I do know is, we need ta beat it outta here before we get caught hanging over this hell blasted guy.”
Harold gave me this hurt expression and gasped, “B, but, Lenny! We can’t just leave him here like this. He might have had a family. Maybe even be missed by good friends, like you’n me!”
I looked back down at the body. Rainwater pummeled him. Mud covered his denim overalls and torn white long sleeve shirt. Whoever he’d been, he’d been a worker. That I had no doubt. Maybe even on the railroads. I doubted then that there was anybody waiting for him. At least, I hoped not. For that poor sod’s sake. My eyes clenched. Hard. I didn’t know what I was going to say. Had no idea what we were going to do. We were already on our own trek. Did we really need such absurdity to contend with?
“Harold,” I at last managed, “we can’t get involved in this…”
“But he just fell from the sky! Shouldn’t we do something? Call the authorities? Get him home?”
Anger burst outta me. I don’t know why. It shouldn’t have been that way. But it was. I slapped his shoulder. Hard. Really hard. He flinched away from me and I immediately felt guilty. However, the words weren’t going to stop now. No. Not if’n we were going to survive to see another day. I felt my lips pull down into a snarl and the words that fell out weren’t friendly. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
“Are you outta yer mind, ya stupid meathead? We’re on the run! We’re on the lam! Moving through the backwoods precisely so’s we ain’t caught! An’ ya wanna call the cops? What’s wrong with you? Ya ferget what we got up to? Ya ferget we’re public enemies number one? Eh? How dumb can ya be!”
Harold’s look is one of unfathomable consternation. Like he can’t believe I would ever utter such words. His eyebrows raised in dejection. Eyes and mouth agape as if sucker-punched by a Yeti. Yet, he continues on, undaunted by his own depraved considerations and my hate filled roarings.
“W, we can’t just leave him here. We have to at least give him a proper funeral. Even if he did just fall out of the sky,” he says to me. “It, it’s only proper.”
The knucklehead was caught on repeat. Never once considerin’ our precarious predicament in any prescient manner. It’s not like anyone would believe either of us were we to say that this body just fell out of the sky. Seriously. The storm clouds gathered, the lightning flashed, and this body simply careens out of the sky through some bright light as if it were transported into the air rights above us. And it falls into the mud, eyes all bleary eyed and everything. And what are we to do about it, eh? Who are we to call and explain? No one I’d reckon. Because who’d believe such a preposterous tale? No, sirree bob. We gots to get out of Dodge and we gots ta do it fast.
“If’n we take the time to bury the poor sod, people might get the idea that we’re the ones what murdered him. If’n murdered he was, o’course. We need to book it now before we can’t book it no longer.”
Harold gets that look in his eyes. That look that says once he’s made up his mind that’s all there is to it. He crosses his arms over his chest, firms his footing in the mud that is now getting muddier in no small part due to the fact that the rain is coming down in force, and clenches his eyelids petulantly. I swear, if’n he weren’t related by family, I would’ve left him there right then and then. However, given he were the nephew of my sister’s husband, well, there weren’t much I could do about it, now was there?
“My momma always said, if’n a soul is worth recognizing in life, it’s worth recognizing in death. Which means we gotsta bury him and soon,” he said shaking his head. I wanted nothing more than to slap him silly.
“Fine, Harold, fine,” I says with a sigh. The weight of our escape was suddenly a crucible on my shoulders and good old Harold didn’t seem to comprehend our already haphazard flight. There was a lot we was guilty of, ya see. Yet, sportin’ some bloody stiff in the middle of the rain weren’t one o’em. “You grab one arm, I’ll grab the other.”
We dragged that body some of the way down the dirty trail until an opening into the woods around us presented itself. Then we continued our little funeral procession through the weeds, and the murk, and into the depths of that dark foreboding place. It’s like a haunted memory now thinking back on it, but, then, it was something my tall and pudgy friend demanded, required, and expected. So, that’s what we did. Traipsed into the depths of the forest all the while trying to ignore the fact that stiff fell from the sky. It was easier to do than ignore the rain opening up and the lightning flashing brighter from above the wooded canopy high above us both. With every flash, those dead eyes staring straight up, searching the heavens for whatever hateful god had deposited him into our good graces, glittered a milky white. His slack jaw hanging open. Yet, it weren’t gathering no flies. No, sir. Not in that weather it weren’t.
We gets to a good place deep in the woods and I look around. The forest was deep there. Real deep. And real dark. Save for all the flashing coming from above us all, o’course.
“A’right, Harold,” I says finally turning around to face the big galloot. “Now, how do you reckon we’re gonna bury this poor old sod? We ain’t gots no shovel.”
Harold stands there for a long moment staring down at the body, whose arms were above its head like he’d been screaming his head off during his mostly lifeless descent. And, who knows, maybe he had been. Then, though, he looked like a comical parody of fear. All pale. What looked to be brown hair sticking straight up despite the battering of liquid loquasiousness pattering all around us, all of it screaming: ‘You suckers are into it now, ain’tcha?’ I could have sworn I heard the laughter in the air, filling the woods all around us with its taunting mania.
I pulled the brim of my fedora a little further down my brow. Sure, it ain’t real kosher to wear it so low, however, who was there to really rib me on it? The rain grew harder and harsher. As if the skies themselves were getting impatient with how long it was taking us to put this stiff six feet under. There was a laugh. We’d be lucky to get Mr. Minnow Bait six inches under let alone six feet. Yet, Harold looks up all a’sudden, a sparkling gleam in that soft face of his.
“We can use my shoe!”
Before I can utter any sort of rebuttal, he has his size twelve off and is down on the ground clawing at the soil. Gotta admit, woulda never thought it possible. But he managed to dig a great big hole in less than half an hour. Didn’t even ask for my help. Just kept going, kept digging, kept plowing. Like a madman possessed by the demons of hell itself. After he was done, he climbed out of that hole, mud covering him head to toe, water pouring into the cavity as he sloshed through a blanket of rain washing over the terrain. He stood up and once more stared down at that body. Then, he glances up at me. I can’t help but to trace a path through the air to his eyes. They glimmer vividly in the night. He reminded me then of some phantasm from a dark tale you told a kid before heading off into the great abyss of slumber. A nightmare ready to come still your dreams. A sandman from the void.
“We gots to say something about him. Anything,” he says to me.
I rub my throat absently. Something is going seriously wrong here. I’m getting cold sweats and feeling out of sorts. Can’t put my finger on it or why it was happening then and then. But it was. “Don’t know him. Never met him. Wouldn’t know what ta say even if’n I did. Why don’t we put this stiff in the ground now and get a move on? I ain’t liking it here.”
Harold shakes his head with a smile. “You don’t have to worry about that, Lenny. I’ll take care of all of that. I’ll put him down there. It’s only right, y’know? Only right. It’s only right.”
Harold looks back down at the body which now almost seems to be smiling in its eternal wail of despair. Strangely, it almost reminds me of somebody else. Some person I once knew. Back in my youth. But that was impossible, o’course. He was long gone and wallowing in the murk of his own infinite void. Worm food for the ages. I looked up to Harold and saw that his eyes had gone ever darker. Likely due to how dark it was in the forest. O’course, the flitting flashes flaring from the lightning around us didn’t help matters any. I wanted nothing more than to get out of there. Immediately.
One meaty hand reached down and grabbed the corpse by the arm. Harold pulled the body over to the gravesite and let it drop down into the chasm. It seemed like some unfathomable time passed until the body hit body and a sickening splash rang out. A weighty thud, mud squishing upwards, water spraying into the air, the sigh of gas escaping built up imprisonment. The urge to hurl came over me like nobody’s business and I was ready to make a beeline back to the path leading to the next city over where I’d sleep like the dead for the next hundred days. However, Harold folded his arms in front of himself and clasped his hands.
“We come to this place, in these unknown woods, to recognize the soul of a man who has been lost to us all forever,” Harold took a deep breath, exhaled, and cast his forlorn gaze down into the grave now taking on the water slipping across the forest floor. “While we did not truly know him, we shall always keep him in our thoughts, in our mind.”
An old friend… no, he was never a friend. Just an associate back in the day. Back in those days, I ran with a rough crowd. It was every man for himself because that was how it had to be. If you didn’t watch out for you and yer own, you were left for dead in some ditch on the mean streets of life. There were no other options. You didn’t get to decide to be a ‘nice guy’. You were either ruthless, or you were dead. That was it and all there was to it, then and then. You ate or you starved. You loved hard or you were left homeless easy. You spoke quick or you lost your voice. They didn’t give you any other chances. You evolved or you disappeared. Like so many back in those days. So many who vanished and were never heard from again.
“He was as we were once: innocent, loving, creative. Longing to make his mark on this world. Hopeful in the best days ahead of us all. Never a critical speaker of any, but always a compassionate ear ready to listen.”
How the hell would you know, Harold? You didn’t know him. None of us did. None of us truly knew him. Nor would we give the time of day to such a silly sod. An artist, a poet, a writer, an unscrupulous person ready to lend any a hand at any time of day even if it were half past midnight and you claimed your car had a—flat…
No. No. It can’t be. Not him. Impossible. I took a step back but Harold didn’t seem to notice. The body in the hole began to float as the water flowing into that cavity grew fiercer still. It was as if the heavens had opened up and every stupid, ignorant, foolish thing one had ever done was laid bare for all to see.
“He was a man who would love you unconditionally. Give you his all even at the worst moments of your life. A person who never turned you away and was always welcoming,” Harold intoned and then smiled still looking down at that floating body, its arms still held high above its head like some Looney Tunes character in freefall. Its face forever screaming in some warped horror. As if he’d arrived at the end of existence and wondered, ‘Is this it?’ “He was especially amazing in the middle of the night. When you had nobody else to count on, he would be there. He’d be there because he wanted to be. Because he insisted you call upon him no matter when. That was just who he was. A good man in a bad world.”
It hit me then and then. Yeah. I remembered that old sod. Oh yeah. Barely eighteen being dared by the street toughs to deal with one incomprehensibly happy fool who kept trying to get into everybody’s business. Kept trying to save those around him who weren’t on the path of the righteous. Oh yeah. He was a busy body alright. He was a sore spot in every gang, hoodlum, thug, molester, and predator’s backside from one side of Lost Soul’s Haven to the next. And it was good old Luey who said to me—
No. No, I won’t. I dare not. It’s not the same. It isn’t that place, and it isn’t that kid. That was decades ago. No way he’s here and now. Never. That was then and then. And then isn’t now.
Thanks for reading and hope you had fun! There will be more to come next week! Until then, have a good week!
~Timothy S Purvis
Amazon Kindle Author’s Page–> Timothy S Purvis
Smashwords Author’s Page–> Timothy S Purvis
SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION STARTS!
I would appreciate if you have Kindle or even if you want some paperback goodies if you’d head on over to my page and maybe show me some love there. I mean, if you’ve been reading a while and see something you like, wouldn’t you like to have it in your personal library? I have some cool short stories available for cheap. Also Tales From A Strange Mind that collects my short stories (there’s also a Kindle edition but, for some reason, Amazon wouldn’t let me link them together) , Tales From A Strange Mind II which collects my old novellas, Red Star Sheriff (Which also has a Kindle edition but Amazon, am I right?) my first novel ever released, though, yes, it does have some grammatical errors and drags on for way too long, sigh. But I still love it and I will be writing a follow up sometime within the next few years. I have a collection of my poems called MisAligned: The Heart Waxes Poetic which collects my old poems but not some of my newer ones included those flash fictions! I’ll probably do that in the future as well. And if you love the perfectly inane, why not check out my Star Cloud scripts presented in book form? Star Cloud The Original Scripts. Another one where Amazon was being difficult with me in connecting the Kindle and PB versions. Still, the paperback they let me sale for cheap and it’s well worth a look if I say so myself. Or, if you don’t want to click on individual links (all of which will take you to my author’s page anyway), just click on my author’s page directly by tapping my name: Timothy S Purvis See for yourself what all I’ve published since I began this venture in 2016.
I mean, if you like my work, of course. No pressure. Just trying to find my way in this world without working menial tasks and suffering physical and mental issues as a result. If only I could merely stay home and write. That would be my most epic fantasy brought to life. Well, if you don’t want to do that, you could also donate to my cause down below after all is said and done. It would help. You know, if you liked what you saw and all. Up to you. I don’t have a lot of reviews on my materials because of low sales. I mean, very, very low sales. In the single digits. Right now, I have to rely on Pubby for reviews and those people only read your synopsis and recap it for a five star review. I want honest opinions. Not mean ones, but honest. So, if you ever find yourself buying some of my work, I’d certainly appreciate some feedback. Again, up to you.
Also, I’m selling my work for cheap over at Smashwords.com! Check out that page here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/TSPurvis
END SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION!